Michigan Teacher Suspended for Playing Macklemore’s Equality Anthem is Back in Class, Her Pay Restored

Susan Johnson, who received a two-day unpaid suspension for allowing a student to play Macklemore's equality anthem "Same Love" in class, has returned to school, and officials are speaking out after public outrage over the punishment, the Detroit News reports:

Johnson"I am willing to not uphold the suspension, but the violation of the district practice regarding web-based clips and our expectations for instructions previewing materials under this will remain in writing," he said in a statement.

The president of the South Lyon Education Association, which represents the district's teachers, said he supports members' efforts to foster tolerance and understanding "without equivocation"

"We also know that teachers need to follow administrative policies and, yet, we feel the district's initial response, a two-day unpaid suspension, to one of our members showing a video clip without submitting the required form, was excessive," said Jim Brennan. "After voicing our concerns, we are pleased that the district reconsidered, and chose to rescind the two-day unpaid suspension. We look forward to meeting with the district to come up with a final resolution."

Johnson received a statement of support from Macklemore following the incident.


  1. Randy says

    I wonder if the people of this school district are thinking tonight what role their treatment of this teacher, for simply showing a video about gay issues, played in the student suicide half an hour north on US 23.

  2. Two thoughts: says

    Two thoughts:

    1) A two-day suspension without pay seems excessive for a violation of this nature, unless the teacher had a history of violating this policy (and/or other similar district policies). A warning or a memo in the teacher’s personnel file would seem much more appropriate and proportionate. Instead, it sounds more like a personal reaction on the part of the assistant superintendent responsible for assessing the suspension.

    2) The policy, while reasonable in theory, sounds pretty wacky in practice. It serves to discouraged degreed, credentialed education professionals from bringing relevant real-world materials into the class room. I would want to know how many clips have been submitted for approval district-wide, and how many have been allowed to be shown.

    This really seems like a way for for a single administrator to exercise a censorship veto against materials, opinions, and beliefs that (s)he disagrees with, or to harass teachers whom(s)he doesn’t like.

  3. woodroad34 says

    I’m with @two thoughts on this: excessive and political. I’m so ashamed of the state I was born in. Thank Goodness, the City I’m from, Kalamazoo, is much more appreciative of all people than the state seems to be.

  4. jay says

    My question on this story, and one that the news outlets will probably not answer because it isn’t as juicy, is whether she was truly suspended due to the subject matter of the videos or because it was a a web clip.
    I won’t defend the school if this was due to subject matter, but copy right laws are MURKY to say the least. Web content and video and whether they are considered home vs. public viewing are a hot topic in academia. Schools are targets for copy right hawks. This school very well may have a strict policy regarding showing web content in the classroom. If she allowed a Macklemore video to be played in class was it from his youtube page? Was it posted by someone who does not own the copy right? Was it directly related to a class assignment or for fun? All these effect whether it is a copy right infringement.
    However, suspension seems a bit harsh in any case.

  5. Francis says

    They suspended her because she played an unapproved song in class. The reason they are backtracking is because it became clear the REAL reason she was suspended so harshly was because the principal/school board at South Lyon essentially admitted that what made the song an issue was because it was “controversial” aka discussing homosexuality (which in itself is false).

    Glad this happened. The backlash was steep. Tragically, Michigan is, once again, in the news for all the wrong reasons regarding their actions against our community.

  6. Icebloo says

    Once again PEOPLE POWER wins the day ! We have to keep holding these out of control elected officials accountable. We have to let them know we can vote them out if they continue to act so arrogantly and so out of touch with the general population !

    Now we all need to sign the petition to tell Obama NOT to cut Medicaid, Medicare of Social Security to appease the evil Republicans.


  7. Icebloo says

    I bet she would not have been suspended OR disciplined had she shown a web clip of Martin Luther King or anything else promoting racial integration.

    The reason they made such a big deal about this is because they are insane in Michigan and still hate gay people.

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